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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Notes

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Primary function of senses is to guide behaviour
perception a rapid, automatic, unconscious process by which we recognize what is
represented by information provided by our sense organs
if we see something ambigious and must figure out what it is, it is problem solving,
not perception
Brain Mechanisms of Visual Perception
perception takes place in brain optic nerve sends signals to thalamus, which relays
information to primary visual cortex (located in occipital lobe), neurons in primary
visual cortex send visual information to two successive levels of visual association
first level located in occipital lobe, surrounds primary visual cortex
second level divided into 2 parts, one is middle of parietal lobe and one in lower
part of temporal lobe
often described as hierarchy of information processing circuits of neurons analyze
particular aspects of visual information and send results of analysis to another circuit,
which performs further analysis at each step successively more complex features are
analyzed and higher levels interact with memories
Primary Visual Cortex
knowledge of early stages of visual analysis comes from investigations of activity of
individual neurons in thalamus and primary visual cortex
David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel inserted microelectrodes into regions of visual
system in anasthetized cats and monkeys (unconsious but visual system still active) to
detect Aps produced by individual neurons
found place in visual field with most response and objects with most response
found that surface of retina is mapped on surface of primary visual cortex centre
of visual field is largest area
2,500 blocks of tissue .5x.7 mm in size containing 15,000 neurons each,
receiving information from same small region of retina, and thus small region of
visual field (amount seen through soda straw)
neural circuits within module analyzes various characteristics of their own
particular field (receptive field) detected presence of lines and signalled
orientation of lines, thickness of lines, movement and its direction
receptive field that portion of visual field in which presentation of visual
stimuli will produce an alteration in firing rate of particular neuron
particular neuron responds to particular orientation (50 degrees, etc)
Visual Association Cortex
first level of visual association cortex contains several subdividions, each of which
contain map of visual scene each subdivision receives information from different

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types of neural circuits within modules of primary visual cortex
orientation and widths of lines and edges involved in perception o
movement keeps track of relative movement of objects
2 regions of association cortex put together information ghathered and processed by
subdivisions of first level
shape, movement and colour combined in visual association cortex in lower part
of temporal lobe (3-d form perception) form perception
information from motor system and body senses about movement of eyes, head,
and body combined in parietal lobe (location of object), part of system for object-
directed behaviour space perception
Effects of Brain Damage on Visual Perception
primary visual cortex damage blind in portion of field
visual association cortex damage difficulty in perceiving shapes and objects or
particular visual characteristics
achromatopsia inability to discriminate among different hues
damage produces achromatopsia in contralateral field (total achromatopsia
results from bilateral damage)
difficulty to perceive movement and keep track of moving objacts (first level
Balint's syndrome difficulty in perceiving location of objects and reaching for
them under visual guidance, difficulty keeping track of them in visual scene, can
see object when looking directly at it but cannot see where located (bilateral
parietoccipital region); deficit in spatial perception
visual agnosia diffuclty recognizing objects (damage to visual association cortex
in temporal lobe)
prosopagnosia form of visual agnosia where there is difficulty recognizing faces
and some other complex stimuli, can recognize categories but not individual
Perception of Form
Figure and Ground
objects or background objects have particular shape and particular locations in
space and backgrounds are formless and serve mostly to help us judge location of
objetcs we see in front of them
figure visual stimuli perceived as self-contained object
ground visual stimuli perceived as formless background on which objects are
Organization of Elements: Gestalt Laws of Grouping
gestalt psychology branch of psychology that asserts that perception of object is

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produced by particular configurations of elements of stimuli
based on tendency to organize elements and empty space into cohesive forms
task of perception was to recognize objects in environment according to
organization of their elements - whole is more than sum of its parts; emhasize
relationship of elements to one another, not just elements
several principles of grouping can predict combination of these elements laws of
law of proximity elements closest to each other are perceived as belonging to same
law of similarity similar elements are perceived as belonging to same figure
good continuation given two or more interpretations of elements that form outline
of figure, simplest interpretation is preferred
law of closure elements missing from outline of figure are filled in by visual system
law of common fate elements that move together give rise to perception of
particular figure
Alais, Blake, and Lee found that law of common fate applies to changes other
than movement
visual objects stand out in background to extent that they exhibit contrasts in
brightness and colour
“common tempo
Models of Pattern Perception
cognitive psychologists study perception
Templates and Prototypes
templates hypothetical pattern that resides in nervous system and is used to
perceive objects or shapes by process of comparison; too simplistic
prototype hypothetical idealized pattern that resides in nervous system and is used
to perceive objects or shapes by process of compariosn, recognition can occur even
when exact match is not found
non-human studies suggest that familiarity with categories of objects may lead to
development of specific types of prototypes
Distinstive Features
distinctive features physical characteristic of an object that helps distinguish it
from others, collection of important features that specify particular object
Neisserb supports hypothesis that perception involves analysis of distinctive
features (Z test)
some phenomena cannot be explained by distinctive features model suggests that
perception of object consists of analysis and synthesis; visual system first identifies
component features of object and then adds up features to determine what object is
would expect that more complex take longer but usually speeds up process of
Enns and Rensink found that orientation of wire-frame objects was quickly
detected in search but if lines weren't connected then orientation harder to detect
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